Almanac

Viewpoint - August 21, 2013

Guest opinion: District tracking costs of redoing playing field

by Ahmad Sheikholeslami

The reconstruction of the Hillview Middle School field and its replacement is not a small matter to the Menlo Park City School District. The district is fully aware of the impact to students and community and is working hard to remedy the problem. We are working diligently to make all the corrections necessary to deliver the highest quality field that our Hillview community deserves.

The district has constructed over $100 million of work in the past six years with few problems. However, as anyone who has undertaken their own construction projects can attest, no project will be entirely free of errors. In the case of the field, a subcontractor did not follow the architect's specifications in several details. The deviations from the plan had significant consequences that only appeared later, when the field did not drain properly and an issue with its levelness became apparent.

The district promptly rejected the entire field (no small matter) and required the general contractor to replace it, because even if the error was the fault of a subcontractor, the general contractor has the ultimate responsibility for delivering a finished product built to the architect's specifications. Any homeowner would have done the same thing: insisted that its general contractor make the effort to re-build it right. The district has withheld payment to the contractor until the finished project is acceptable. The general contractor has been very responsive and stepped forward to correct the problems.

We understand the scrutiny placed on the district. This is a complex project and the risk and responsibility ultimately rest with the construction team. In order to help identify and analyze the deficiencies and to work with all parties involved to facilitate a work plan for corrective action, additional oversight and inspection costs have been expended by the district. At this time the district is concentrating its efforts on getting the field completed. As previously indicated, the district is tracking its additional oversight and inspection costs and will at a later point address the matter of who bears ultimate responsibility for the additional costs.

Ahmad Sheikholeslami is facilities director of the Menlo Park City School District.

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